Dos and Don’ts for Updating Your Resume

How to Update your Resume: The Do’s & Don’ts

Applying for a job always comes with a bit of anxiety that your resume could end up in a virtual abyss thanks to the growing popularity of Applicant Tracking Systems — artificial intelligence programs that scan your resume for keywords and determine whether to connect you with to a recruiter. If you’re looking for a job, there are some important Dos and Don’ts to follow that will increase your odds of landing an interview and, hopefully, the job.

If it’s been some time since you last updated your resume, you might consider setting your old draft aside and building a new one from scratch. Be sure to focus on six key components:

1. Contact Information

The heading of your resume will inform a potential employer who you are and how you can be contacted. Simple formatting is key here. Make sure you put your name in bold type and place your contact information (email address and phone number) below on a single line. 

2. Education

Your education is the foundation upon which you’ve built your career. Keep it simple, clear, and above all, be honest.

3. Professional Experience

List relevant professional experience under each position you’ve held and back up that experience with quantifiable results and achievements. Be sure to include your position title, dates of employment, and location for each job.

4. Community Involvement

Much like your professional experience, you’ll want to highlight your achievements in the community when it’s relevant to the job you’re seeking. 

5. Professional Organizations

Your membership in a professional organization speaks to your passion for the industry in which you work.
 
6. Summary of Qualifications
Hard and soft skills and technology competencies are vital components of your professional story. List six to eight skills that you excel at and align the terminology to match the job description. 

Resume Do’s and Don’ts

In order to increase the chance that your resume will be seen, here are six “do’s” and four “don’ts” for updating your resume.

DO create a heading with clear contact information. Include one phone number and one professional email address, such as Gmail. 

DO include a strong summary section. Highlight your accomplishments and best assets in two to three easily digestible sentences. Don’t worry about including an objective statement because employers know what you’re after. 

DO use bullet points instead of paragraphs. This makes it much easier to read. Begin your bullet points with action verbs in the correct verb tense (past tense for past roles, present tense for current roles).

DO utilize consistent, conservative fonts. Don’t use smaller than an 11-point font size and be sure that your font size is consistent throughout your resume.

DO spell out the months. Spelling out the months of the year gives your resume a more professional look. 

DO list your education in reverse chronological order. Add your most recent education first, including the date you completed — or plan to complete — your degree.

DON’T include high school in the education section. Even if you’ve only recently graduated, employers are interested in your skills and achievements, not your diploma. 

DON’T use tables, graphics, photos, or lines across the page. In addition to creating clutter on your page, these will prevent Applicant Tracking Systems from properly reading all of the information on your resume.

DON’T include periods at the end of your bullet points. This is important to look for when checking for spelling and grammatical errors. Periods aren’t necessary because your bullet points should not be complete sentences.

DON’T use “I” statements. First person and possessive pronouns, such as “our” or “mine,” do not belong in your bullet points. Instead, make your bullet points brief, to-the-point examples of your accomplishments and responsibilities. 

Get Help from Career Services

As an Ashford University student or alum, you have a built-in advantage when it comes to crafting your resume. The University’s Career Services team has developed a Resume Builder that will walk you through the aforementioned components, with optimization techniques to help you get through Applicant Tracking Systems.

  • To access the Resume Builder, follow these steps:
  • Enter the Student Portal
  • Click “My Career”
  • Fill out survey questions (one time only)
  • Once in My Career, click “Resources” on the left sidebar
  • Click “Resume Builder”
  • Click “Create New Resume”

The Resume Builder allows you to choose from multiple templates and add additional sections, such as relevant certifications. After you’ve completed your resume, you will be able to download it as a PDF or Word document. 

To get started on your resume, use the resources of “My Career” or contact Ashford University’s Career Services team at [email protected].

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Written by Ashford University Staff

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